How to debug projects that crash on load?

Hi everyone,

I’m finding that it’s becoming really common projects ( like 2/3 projects ) to load correctly one day and start crashing the next for no obvious reason. I’m assuming it’s due to one of the 3rd party plugins, however there’s no error messages thrown so I’m sure. Especially so since I’ll start crashing without adding or removing any plugins in a project. Based on the Cubase documentation when you launch Cubase in Safe Mode it’s supposed to give you an option to disable 3rd party plugins but I do not see that option.

How are you supposed to debug which plugin is causing the project to crash, or debug projects that crash on load in general?

Also in the case where it is a 3rd party plugin causing a crash, why isn’t there an error message letting you know which plugin is causing the crash? Or really any error messages in general? I must be missing something if the only way forward in these cases is to send the crash dump to Support to debug.


I’m a new cubase user like you and I always asked myself the same questions you have… hopeful some senior members have some answers to this I’m sure…

I’d debug this by make a new project and starting to import tracks from the problematic project into it and then see which one makes it crash… I’m sure other experienced users will have better solutions…

Thanks for the thoughts thebabegrand.

Looking back at the project I’m seeing that the project size is over 2 GB. It’s not a large project, like 10 tracks and 5 plugins. Possible I’m hitting some legacy 32-bit memory limit when loading the project? Other projects that are much larger as far as tracks, audio, and plugins are around 10k, so what’s causing this massive memory usage in the project?


I’m also finding that the various backups start roughly doubling in size each time they’re saved, so the oldest backup file is 335k ( which is still huge ), the next one is 663k, then 1.3 GB, then 2.6 GB.

I reopened the project using one of the backup files that wasn’t over the 32 bit limit or whatever’s f’n up Cubase and individually exported the tracks. I was able to export all tracks except for the very last track in the project which was using an Arturia DX7 VST. There were no events in the track, but the exported file was over 5 GB by the time I used Task Manager to stop Cubase as it was taking forever.

I relaunched the older project and terminated Cubase on exporting that track a 2nd time after a minute or 2 so that the exported track .xml file was still a readable size. When I open that track’s xml it looks like the Descendant of the SynthSlot node’s XElement with the “name” XAttribute of “audioComponent” is corrupt, as it’s just a never ending stream of data.

So the hierarchy is:

32322073657269616C697A6174696F6E3A3A6172636869766520313020302037 20302037203134204469676920446972742042656570203720466163746F7279 20323520352053756D6D612034204C6561642030203020342030203130204167 67726573736976652036204272696768742037204469676974616C2034204861 72642031203020363020486561767920616C696173696E672044696769204265 657020536F756E64207769746820612072656D61726B61626C79206861727368 20626173732E203135313134323937383820313020312E362E312E3338353420 3020302030203020302030203020302020302030203120302030203020342054 6167732031333432313737323739204C6F66697C4C6F66697C4C6F66697C4C6F ...

At which point the hex 4C6F6669 just keeps repeating over and over, hopefully some sort of flagged memory pattern you use for memory leaks or overwrites?

If I remove that track from the backup project that’s still able to be opened, it takes the project size from 1.33 GB to 7.5 KB so that track was clearly the issue.

If I add another instance of the Arturia DX7 in the same location and save it does not jump back up again, so something messed up that particular instance of the VST vs. there being an issue with that VST in general.

Steinberg/Cubase guys let me know if you want any more detailed information, I’ll keep the corrupted project files handy. Not sure if you need a repro on the actual point of corruption vs. an already corrupted file, but hopefully you can get this one sorted out.


So to answer my own question “How to debug projects that crash on load?”

  1. Check the file size of the project you’re trying to load
  2. If it’s over the 32 bit limit ( like 2GB or so ) then find the most recent .bak file of your project that’s less than that limit
  3. Rename your .bak file to use the .cpr extension ( so MyProject.bak -> MyProject.cpr )
  4. In the opened file for each track ( you can also select multiple tracks but then you won’t know which of the group is causing an issue ) go to File->Export->Selected Tracks…
  5. Once you find a track that does not finish exporting immediately CTRL+ALT+DEL and kill Cubase via taskmanager.
  6. Find the .xml file that you were exporting in Explorer and verify you have some sort of corruption similar to what I posted above
  7. Reopen your backup project
  8. Delete the track that was unable to be exported
  9. Save New Version and go on your merry way.